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On the Road in China: The Rural Heartland

In central Anhui province, Wu Faliang tills his tiny plot of land with a water buffalo and wooden plow.
Rob Gifford, NPR
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In central Anhui province, Wu Faliang tills his tiny plot of land with a water buffalo and wooden plow.
Zhou Jianming is a resident of the rural Anhui province. Local government officials took some of her land and sold it to a company building a pharmaceutical factory.
Rob Gifford, NPR /
/
Zhou Jianming is a resident of the rural Anhui province. Local government officials took some of her land and sold it to a company building a pharmaceutical factory.

As NPR's Rob Gifford continues his 3,000-mile journey across China, he comes to the province of Anhui, in the country's rural heartland. It's where free-market reforms were launched 25 years ago, after Deng Xiaoping succeeded Mao as supreme leader.

Given that history of reform, Anhui should be wealthier than it is. But farmers still use water buffalo and wooden plows. Young people have left to look for work in the cities, leaving behind only the old or the very young. And local authorities are as powerful and capricious as ever.

It's the second of seven reports from Gifford's 14-day trek to China's westernmost reaches.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Rob Gifford
Rob Gifford is the NPR foreign correspondent based in Shanghai.